The Hello Bar is a simple web toolbar that engages users and communicates a call to action.

Your Website Sucks: Usability

This is part two of this week’s series, Your Website Sucks.

When you think of a website, does the word usability come to mind? It should. How you think your audience uses your website and how they actually use it may be quite surprising.

Designers have a tendency to think Up and Down and Left to Right. Which means start your copy in the top left corner and run it to the bottom in the first column then pick up where they left off back at the top of the next column.

In reality, viewers eyes dart everywhere on a page looking for something to click on. When they think they’ve found what they’re looking for, they click and see where they wind up. If it’s not what they wanted they hit the back button and start again.

Think Usability

Steve Krug in his 2000 book, Don’t Make Me Think touched on five things you can do to make your site more user-friendly.

Basic Structure Should Be Fairly Consistent From Page to Page
Don’t think that if you make every page look identical you’re going to bore your reader. In fact the opposite is true. You’re making it easier for them to find what they’re looking for no matter where they’re at in your site.

Navigation Should Be Obvious
A no-brainer, right? At least with WordPress themes the navigation is pretty straight forward for most of the designs. That being said, I’ve seen some doozies out there (especially amongst the free themes) that can really keep you guessing.

Keep this rule in mind: if it takes more than two seconds to spot the home button, it’s too confusing.

Imbedded Text Links Should Be Descriptive
Use those Alt tags! If I hover over a link, let me know where it’s going to go. An added benefit is SEO-love from the search engines.

Buttons Should Look Like Buttons and Be Clickable
Again, WordPress themes are usually pretty good about this. It’s the “designer” pages that usually cause the problems. I submit for your inspection, Got Milk?

Make Your Pages Scannable – People Don’t Read, They Scan
You know this is true. How do you think we subscribe to 6-10 blogs and read all of this stuff every day? You look at the title and scan down the subheads and bullet points. If something is interesting, you read these lighter shaped words underneath.

Look at the layout to this post. Can you get the main gist of the article by scanning it in 10 seconds?

But, Wait! That’s Not All!

Here’s were most folks stop dead in their tracks. Yeah you’ve followed the suggestions in the previous post and cleaned up your pages. You follow the suggestions here and found an elegant theme that fits most, if not all of the criteria.

In the last post of this series I want to show you how to help your website start converting the lookers into acting on what you want them to act on.

About Jay Walsh

With a combined 25 years of design, marketing, podcasting, video and social media knowledge, Jay created ProPodder.com with the goal of helping you make a better podcast.

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